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Buncombe

The county was formed in 1791 from parts of Burke County and Rutherford County. It was named for Edward Buncombe, a colonel in the American Revolutionary War, who was captured at the Battle of Germantown.

In 1808 the western part of Buncombe County became Haywood County. In 1833 parts of Burke County and Buncombe County were combined to form Yancey County, and in 1838 the southern part of what was left of Buncombe County became Henderson County. Finally, in 1851 parts of Buncombe County and Yancey County were combined to form Madison County.

In 1820, a U.S. Congressman, whose district included Buncombe County, unintentionally contributed a word to the English language. In the Sixteenth Congress, after the lengthy debate on the Missouri Compromise, members of the House called for an immediate vote on that important question. Instead, Felix Walker rose to address his colleagues, insisting that his constituents expected him to make a speech “for Buncombe.” It was later remarked that Walker’s untimely and irrelevant oration was not just for Buncombe–it “was Buncombe.” Thus, Buncombe afterward spelled bunkum and then shortened to bunk, became a term for empty, nonsensical talk.


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